An audit has found that the Justice Department spent more than $45 million last year on conferences set up for Justice Department divisions — including one event where caterers provided government employees with meatball appetizers costing about $5 eachhttp://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/Story?id=3603415&page=2
In a report obtained today by ABC News, the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General examined 10 conferences, including the 2006 COPS National Conference held at the Washington Hilton, which cost taxpayers $823,105.
One third of the conference's budget was spent on food and beverages. A further breakdown by the inspector general audit showed some pricey items at a $60,000 networking reception.
"The reception also served conference attendees several hundred Swedish meatballs and miniature pastries. With applicable service charges, each meatball cost nearly $5 and each piece of pastry cost almost $6," according to the 128-page audit. The report says the meatballs cost exactly $4.77 per unit.
The report cites meal costs at the 2005 "Community Capacity Development Office" conference at the Westin hotel in Los Angeles, showing that the government paid $37.67 per person for deli sandwich lunches, with bags of chips priced at $3.25, yogurt at $4.87, cans of soda $4.55 and bottles of water at $4.87 each. The average cost for the conference food came in at $256 per person per day.
Although some of the costs may seem a bit pricey, the inspector general said the conferences were justified.